Monday, July 7, 2008
Beyond William H's expectations
Over the weekend, I stumbled across a letter from William H. Emory (for more information on WH, see Jim's post below) to his mother Anna Maria (for more information on Anna Maria's adolesence see Adam's post just below this one). There was nothing really remarkable about the letter from 1834--other than that it was completely intact--mainly just the recent comings and goings of the Emory clan, and William's experiences at Fort Hamilton. One passage William wrote, however, stuck out because it is the very reason I am writing this blog entry today:
"I am glad to hear father's portrait is a good one and when yours shall have been finished and the two hung up to adorn the walls of Poplar Grove, I hope it will [be] a sufficient incentive...to keep the old place in the hands of the family, secure from the pollution of strangers, for at least two or three generations."
Included below are the two portraits William mentioned. On the left is the matronly, yet judging by her letters as a child and adult, very active and independent Anna Maria. On the right is her husband Thomas.
More than 170 years after William wrote to his mother, Poplar Grove remains in Emory hands. For a family that so tied its identity to the soil at Poplar Grove, it makes me wonder whether that by processing these records for public use are we inviting "strangers" (including myself) "into the old place" against William's wishes. But then again, there would be no history without such measures. And I'd be out of a job.
My hat is off to a family that felt such a responsibility to the land and to one another.